The helmet you wear while riding your bicycle is not just a fashion statement; it will ultimately determine your safety in the unlikely event of an accident, so it is well worth taking a few moments to consider exactly what kind of helmet is most suitable for you.
In this article we’re going to take a look at budgeting for a helmet, picking an appropriate style, and how to find a bike helmet that fits safely and comfortably so that you can ride with the utmost peace of mind.
Determine Your Budget
It is tempting for all of us to give in to the lure of cheap $20 – 30 bike helmets, and with options ranging from $100 all the way up to a few hundred dollars or more; it can be hard to justify spending the extra money.
There is an old saying that goes “buy cheap, buy twice,” and this is very much applicable to bike helmets, so please do consider increasing your budget to around $80 – 100 and you certainly will not regret it.
At this price point you will open up many more options, including adjustable straps, extra padding, enhanced ventilation, and so on will go a long way to increasing not only your safety but the overall enjoyment of your cycling.
You only have to get out mid way through a long ride with an uncomfortable helmet on to realise why they're is a need for more expensive options on the market. Quality is an absolute must when it comes to bike helmets, so don’t be afraid to shell out a little extra!
That being said, ultimately, make sure that the helmet you select is the correct one for your budget and cycling needs.
Choosing a Helmet Style
There are quite a few different styles of bicycle helmet so after figuring out how much you are looking to spend on one your next step will be to pick a style that best suits your intended use.
Leisure bike helmets are arguably the most common ones that you will see road cyclists wearing from day to day.
This style of helmet comes in a wide variety of visual themes and designs, enabling you to enjoy a stylish and practical fit without the need for excessive added features.
Whether you commute each day via bicycle or simply enjoy the occasional Sunday ride with your family, a leisure helmet is definitely a suitable choice. Check out the Louis Garneau Atlantis Helmet, shown above, here.
Full face bike helmets, such as the Fox Rampage Helmet, are for the slightly more ambitious and adventurous riders amongst you.
The ideal choice for downhill cycling and messy trails, full face helmets offer unrivalled protection for your entire head and face, ensuring the bones of your cheeks and teeth are covered in the somewhat-more-likely event of a crash or collision.
If you’re more of a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie then this might just be the helmet for you!
Road & Aero Road
While leisure helmets are suitable for road cyclists, the more dedicated road and aero road bike helmets typically constitute a slightly higher-quality choice for those of you who prefer a more lightweight aerodynamic helmet.
These styles of bike helmets provide an enviable combination of streamlined shape with safety and maneuverability, making them suitable for not just road cycling but many other disciplines as well. There are lots of variants when it comes to the road & aero road helmet segment, but generally speaking there are two main styles. The road style, such as the Kabuto MS-2:
Or, the more serious Aero Road style Louis Garneau Vorttice Helmet, which as you can is an aerodynamic helmet that can be used for racing and velondrome purposes as well:
BMX bike helmets are somewhat similar to full face helmets, and are actually available in a full face variety for the more aggressive riders out there who are looking for the utmost in facial protection.
The design of this style of helmet somewhat resembles that of a skateboarding helmet, with its domed top and lesser ventilation.
If you’re looking to pull some gnarly jumps and stunts with your bike then you’d be wise to opt for a BMX helmet. Fox offer the value loaded Transition Helmet, as shown below.
Providing fantastic ventilation along with an incredibly aerodynamic design, mountain bike helmets are the ideal choice for off-road biking.
Their lightweight ergonomic design is also far superior to some of the more cumbersome helmets on the market, enabling you to remain fully cognizant of your surroundings at all times. This is particularly important when traversing uneven or unknown terrain out in the wild. Check out the Fox Flux MTB Helmet here.
Finding Your Size
Now that you have a general idea of what style or styles of bike helmet are suitable for you, it’s time to determine what size you need.
It is important to note that the most expensive, elaborately designed bike helmet in the world will fail to deliver the comfort and protection you need if it doesn’t fit you correctly, so this is perhaps the most important section of this article.
Most low-end helmets will typically be labeled simply as ‘Adult’ size, meaning that there is no point in taking measurements of your head, but if you opt for a more mid-range helmet then you should be given a choice between three or four sizes ranging from Small to Large or Extra Large.
The quickest and easiest way to determine which size is right for you is to use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your head at its widest point.
Once you have this figure you can begin checking the labels of helmets as each size will typically come accompanied by what range of head sizes it is designed to fit.
Knowing your size alone isn’t end of it; however, because there can be some variance between different styles of bike helmet and even different brands and manufacturers.
Ensuring a Secure and Comfortable Fit
The best thing you can do before making your final purchase is to try on at least a few different helmets so that you have some point of comparison.
Try tightening a helmet, and once you’ve got a nice and snug fit begin nodding your head up and down and shaking your head from side as if gesturing “yes” and “no” respectively.
It is also wise to do this with your mouth both wide open and closed to ensure that there is enough space for your jaw to move around without the helmet being too loose.
If the helmet moves around too much, even with a seemingly tight fit, then it might not be right for you, but trying on a few different models will help you quickly determine which ones are worth the money.
At the end of the day, you want to make a decision that you will be happy with. The more riding you are doing, the more of an investment you will want to make in a long lasting comfortable helmet! I would love to hear your thoughts on the best helmet you have purchased, either in terms of comfort, value, weight, or aerodynamics. Leave a comment below and I will get back to you. Enjoy Your Ride